A Chinese saying says, "A good neighbor is better than a brother far off." Neighbors enrich our lives. Even though they do not live with us, they play an important role in our lives.
I am blessed because no matter where I’ve lived, in China or America, I’ve always had good neighbors. In Shanghai, we live in a high-rise apartment. My family and our neighbors get along well and always help each other.
When I came to live in Hinesville, I met my American neighbor, Ms. Sara. She is an elegant, friendly and sweet lady, who loves gardening. I was amazed by her yard. My host mom told me that Ms. Sara has a green thumb.
What I will remember most about Ms. Sara is that she is a tremendous baker. I met her on a sunny afternoon. She knocked on our backdoor and welcomed me with some desserts that she made — chocolate cookies, pralines and a slice of lemon cake. That lemon cake became my favorite cake. I even asked my host mom to make it for my birthday cake!
She asked Ms. Sara for the recipe and made it for my 17th birthday party. The cake required a lot of effort — 10 fresh lemons, perfect timing and the right temperature. It was six layers high, filled with lemon jelly and frosting, making it very tall! After I blew out my candles and cut a few pieces off, the cake was so heavy that it toppled over. It looked like the Titanic sinking!
Ms. Sara showers her friends and loved ones with her baked goods. Living next door to her makes it easy for her to drop off extras. I enjoy not only eating them, but also the sweet feeling of having such a caring and wonderful neighbor.
Last spring, I attended my first prom, and Ms. Sara came to see me dressed like a princess with my handsome date. We chatted in the yard, and took photographs. As she told me how pretty and grown up I looked, I saw the reflection of my grandmother. I will always remember that afternoon — sunshine, blossoms and laughter.
Last summer, when I was home in Shanghai, I heard Ms. Sara had fallen and broken some bones while doing yard work. She had to stay in nursing home for several weeks. My heart was just broken. So, the very first thing I did when I came back last fall was to go visit her.
I was relieved when I saw she was doing well — well enough that she invited us to play Bingo, which was another fresh American thing for me. She taught me how to play. With beginner luck that I always have, I won my first Bingo prize. Everyone had a great time and Ms. Sara told us she would be able to go home the next week.
Ms. Sara came home shortly after that visit, and is back to her usual routine of yard work and baking. She goes to church, plays card with friends and, maybe soon, she’ll make another lemon cake!